First Thing: Zelenskiy secures $325m in new US aid on whirlwind Washington visit

<span>Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Good morning.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy worked to shore up US support for Ukraine on a whirlwind visit to Washington yesterday, delivering an upbeat message on the war’s progress while facing new questions about the flow of US dollars that for 19 months have helped keep his troops in the fight against Russian forces.

The Ukrainian leader received a far quieter reception than the hero’s welcome he was given last year from Congress, but also won generally favorable comments on the next round of US aid he says he needs to stave off defeat.

Zelenskiy, in long-sleeve olive drab, came to the Capitol with a firm message in private talks with Republican and Democratic leaders. The Ukrainians have a solid war plan, and “they are winning”, lawmakers quoted him as assuring them, at a time when the world is watching western support for Kyiv.

President Joe Biden gave Zelenskiy a red-carpet arrival on the White House south lawn and more ceremony than world leaders normally receive, and made clear his concern with Congress.

  • What did Biden say about Congress? Asked about the funding issue after meeting with Zelenskiy, Biden answered: “I’m counting on the good judgment of the United States Congress. There’s no alternative.”

  • Why is support waning among Republicans? There is intensifying opposition to continued Ukraine funding from a faction of congressional Republicans who are largely aligned with the party’s presidential frontrunner Donald Trump. This is threatening what had been easier congressional approval for four previous rounds of funding for Ukraine, delivering $113bn. Any momentum towards opposing US aid for Ukraine also potentially puts public backing of the war effort at risk.

Iranian activists across Europe are targets of threats and harassment

Iran and its agents appear to be orchestrating a Europe-wide campaign of harassment, surveillance, kidnap plots and death threats targeting political activists who are protesting against the regime.

The Guardian has spoken to 15 Iranian campaigners who have been targeted in similar acts of repression across the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and Sweden.

In most of the cases, western police or security agencies have warned the activists that Iran is behind credible threats to their life in retribution for their activism on European soil, writes Manisha Ganguly.

The attacks include hacking, cyber-attacks and online harassment that can include thousands of death threats sent over a week, as well as real-world threats.

Two activists in different countries have had their car tyres slashed in the last year, which they suspect was done by Iranian agents. Several report having been followed home from meetings by suspicious men.

  • Who has been targeted? Among those targeted are Maryam Banihashemi, the face of the Iranian women’s movement in Switzerland, where she has lived since 2016. In June this year, Banihashemi was informed that her life may be in danger. The message, delivered to her by a person she knows works for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, was chilling: “They intend to assassinate you there.”

  • What has Iran said about the allegations? An Iranian government spokesperson denied all accusations of wrongdoing.

Elijah McClain death: prosecutors show body camera footage as trial of officers begins

Elijah McClain
Elijah McClain. Photograph: Family Photo/Reuters

Colorado prosecutors will focus on police body camera footage – both raw and digitally enhanced – as they began building their case against two officers charged over the death of Elijah McClain, a young Black man who was stopped, put in a neck hold and sedated with ketamine four years ago.

McClain’s death, alongside the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, was among those highlighted during the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020.

Charges against the officers were brought in 2021 after a revised coroner’s report determined that the powerful sedative paramedics gave to McClain, 23, played a key role in his death.

The two officers on trial, Randy Roedema and Jason Rosenblatt, have pleaded not guilty to charges of criminally negligent homicide, manslaughter and assault, all felonies. It’s the first of several cases stemming from McClain’s death, with a third officer and two paramedics scheduled for trial later this year.

  • Why was McClain stopped by police? He was stopped while walking home late at night in the Denver suburb of Aurora after a 911 caller reported him as suspicious, saying he was wearing a ski mask even though it was late August. His pleading words captured on body camera – “I’m just different” – painfully underscored his apparent confusion at what was happening.

In other news …

Justin Trudeau
Canadian media have reported that Justin Trudeau’s government is in possession of intelligence linking Indian officials to the killing of a Sikh activist. Photograph: Justin Tang/AP
  • Pressure is mounting on Canada to release evidence of what it says are credible allegations of an extraterritorial assassination on its soil, as media reports indicated that the government is believed to be in possession of intelligence linking Indian officials and diplomats to the killing.

  • The Biden administration has announced the nation’s first federal Office of Gun Violence Prevention. In a statement, the White House said the office would be overseen by Kamala Harris’s office, directed by Stefanie Feldman, a longtime Biden gun policy adviser.

  • Police investigating a New York City daycare center where a one-year-old boy died of alleged fentanyl exposure have discovered additional fentanyl hidden in a space underneath the center’s floor. Following a tip about a trapdoor in the floor, authorities searched the Divino Niño daycare center in the Bronx again.

  • China is fuelling a global surge in mpox cases, accounting for the majority of new cases reported in September, according to the World Health Organization. The number of weekly cases reported globally increased by 328% in the week to 10 September, data shows.

Stat of the day: ‘You could fill a museum with it’ – the $963m Roman Abramovich art collection revealed

The Guardian can reveal that during an extraordinary spending spree, spanning nearly a decade, the oil and gas oligarch Roman Abramovich and his ex-wife, the US-based collector Dasha Zhukova, acquired what experts believe is one of the most significant private collections of modern art ever assembled, a trove of more than 300 pieces whose worth was estimated by Abramovich’s own assessors at almost $1bn. “You could fill a museum with it; this is a stupendous collection,” said Andrew Renton, the professor of curating at Goldsmiths, University of London. “It’s not the vulgar collection of a nouveau riche; it shows very good taste. If you have enough money, you can buy a piece of history.”

Don’t miss this: Power and scandal: how Murdoch drove the UK, US and Australia to the right

Seventy-one years ago, Rupert Murdoch inherited a single newspaper in Adelaide and turned it into a business that became the English-speaking world’s most powerful news provider, driving the politics of three countries – Australia, the UK and the US – to the right and surviving a string of scandals and controversies until his retirement at the age of 92, which he announced yesterday.

Murdoch built a global conservative media empire, but the phone-hacking scandal in the UK that cost his company more than £1bn and the more recent Dominion libel action in which Fox eventually paid out $787.5m, almost undid the divisive mogul. His eldest son, Lachlan Murdoch, 52, now gains sole control of a media group.

Climate check: Exclude fossil fuel firms from Cop28 if they only want to obstruct, says ex-UN chief

Fossil fuel companies should not be included in the Cop28 climate summit if they continue to block climate action, the UN’s former climate chief told reporters yesterday. “If they are going to be there only to be obstructors, and only to put spanners into the system, they should not be there,” said Christiana Figueres, who was pivotal to the delivery of the landmark Paris climate agreement in 2015.

Figueres made the statement a day after global leaders from more than 100 national governments gathered for the United Nations’ climate ambition summit to outline new plans to curb global heating and adapt to its effects, in preparation for this fall’s Cop28.

Last Thing: Lost Michigan toddler found asleep in woods using family dog as furry pillow

Michigan state police vehicle
Troopers from Michigan state police were called to a home in the Faithorn area of Menominee county after the girl wandered away. Photograph: Pixel Power/Alamy

A two-year-old girl who walked away from her home in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula alongside two family dogs was found in the woods hours later sleeping on the smaller dog like a furry pillow, state police said. “She laid down and used one of the dogs as a pillow, and the other dog laid right next to her and kept her safe,” Lt Mark Giannunzio said yesterday. “It’s a really remarkable story.” Troopers used drones and police dogs in the search while local police and citizens from both Michigan and adjacent Wisconsin helped look for the girl in the remote wooded area. Around midnight, a citizen on an ATV found the girl about three miles (4.8km) from her home, state police said. Giannunzio said the girl was checked by medical staff and appeared to be in good health.

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